Is There an Upside to Bark Beetle Mania?

February 23 2011, 10:45 AM

Next time you take in one of Colorado's magnificent panoramas from above, don't fret at the sight of the reddened, dying trees in the clutches of an agonizingly slow death from bark beetle infestation. Instead, imagine how cool one of I've Got Wood's beetle-kill lamps, benches, or coffee tables would look in your living room. But first take heart in the long-term view provided by Greg Aplet of the Wilderness Society's Denver office, who sees signs of the state's forests rebounding from the infestations and thinks they will grow back more resilient and adaptable.

Aplet tells the Aspen Times that life—this time fir and spruce trees—has sprouted from ground where it seemed "100 percent" of the trees were dead, once concealed in shade but now bathing in sunlight. "I think there's silver lining to this bark beetle epidemic," Aplet says. It's all happening very slowly, however: The trees will be falling for decades, but they gained their foothold on hillsides by default, out-competing other vegetation and trees after the state's logging era and a series of massive fires that followed in the late 1800s.